An essay from the Place Issue
I don’t know about this stuff. I’m not a car guy. But it seems I’ve always been aware of Yello Belly Drag Strip as a place an only child of somewhat fearful disposition would not ever want to go. I’m pretty sure, however, (odd to be uncertain, but one wishes things, one tends to make things up) I went there once when a business associate of my father’s came to town in his brand-new ’59 Impala (you don’t have to be mechanical to know that was the very best year for fins—in this case arcing, horizontal; almost practical, anticipating flight) and wanted to race it. Or, more likely, simply time it down the track.
A profile of Charlie Sexton, from the 2014 Texas Music Issue.
The circus had left town. Rolling toward the end of the Seventies, all the high-dollar distressed denim, heavy turquoise bracelets, soft and scuffed Lucchese boots, and even the brain-blowing snow-white cocaine weren’t quite as ominous in Austin’s nightclubs. It was starting to feel a little more like home again, back before the so-called redneck rock invasion. When the cosmic cowboys first started raiding the city, hijacking all the musical attention in our little Austin oasis, it was the mid-Seventies and the Lone Star state was slightly sedate. But that’s how we liked it, actually, because it let the city’s hippies and beatniks create their own fantasies and live on inexpensive fumes. Before the onslaught, the dozen or so honkytonks and nightclubs took care of their own. There were no record business people to promise what rarely got delivered, and the long days and nights spread before central Texas like the promise of a pot hit and a hot kiss.
Before Berry Gordy started Motown—before Russell Simmons and Suge Knight were even born—Don Robey epitomized what it meant to be a black music mogul. Working in Houston from the 1930s until his death in 1975, Robey discovered Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. His record company released the original version of “Hound Dog,” and he made Bobby “Blue” Bland a star. Ike and Tina Turner, B.B. King, and Little Richard were clients of his booking agency, and T-Bone Walker, “Big” Joe Turner, and Wynonie Harris all regularly graced the stage at his nightclub, where legendary after-parties saw the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe jamming with Big Bill Broonzy and Louis Jordan.
A poem from the Winter 2013 issue.
Veronica is lovely. She wipes the dust from Christ’s face in the carving
beside Simon, though she is never mentioned in the Gospels.